The IID Solar Debate Continues, but the Legal Battle Begins

The IID Solar Debate Continues, but the Legal Battle Begins

Daytona Everett

LA QUINTA – After the passing of a new solar ordinance in Riverside County, Imperial Irrigation District is taking legal action. The ordinance forces IID to create a new solar tariff that resembles Southern California Edison.

“There’s a cost associated with all of that movement of energy back and forth,” Marion Champion, media communications officer for IID, said.

Imperial Irrigation District filed civil litigation in Riverside County Superior Court against the Riverside County Board of Supervisors on Monday.

The next day, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors heard from IID representative Antonio Ortega and energy lawyer, Robert Hanna, who is representing the solar companies.

“IID has left us with no other option,” Ortega said at the meeting.

IID said the ordinance would be forcing them to “surpass its state obligations” under the net metering program.

“The county does not have the jurisdiction to force IID into creating a separate rate class,” Champion said. “We are forbidden to have different rate classes that would compete within one another just because of geographical boundaries.”

Hanna said the ordinance is, in fact, legal under California law.

“It is not setting a rate but enacting oversight by the only governing body that is permitted to do so under the statute,” he said.

IID said it is ultimately worried about its customers because the ones with solar might be footing the bill for those without.

“It might be your neighbor who maybe for different reasons they have not chosen to go solar,” Champion said. “It’s unfair to penalize those customers because they don’t have the choice to go solar.”

While the ordinance is similar to Edison’s, Champion said it wouldn’t work for them because of their different utility rates.

The solar companies are pushing this new ordinance in hopes of expanding their solar capabilities, Hanna said.

“The policy is to encourage solar energy, the equipment and installation of the programs,” Hanna said.

Champion said IID is in favor of expanding solar, too, just not in this way. Moving forward, Riverside County will look at the legality of the ordinance.

If the ordinance goes through, IID customers east of Washington Street could begin to see higher utility bills.